Adm. Philip Davidson, the head of US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), is defending a $27 billion wishlist his command submitted to Congress to confront China in the region.
Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, Davidson recognized that the plan, known as the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI), is “not without controversy” but argued it was worth the massive price tag. He compared it to the European Defense Initiative (EDI) that the PDI was based on.
“It’s been fascinating to me, the relative ease at which the conversation happens year to year when it comes to the EDI when compared to PDI,” Davidson said. He is requesting about $27 billion in spending between 2022 and 2027, with $4.6 billion of that for the 2022 fiscal year alone.
One of the top priorities of the plan is a $1.6 billion missile defense system for the US military base in Guam. The Guam defense system requires a $200 million radar system in Pulau and $2.3 billion of space-based radars.
Perhaps the most provocative proposal of the PDI is a $3.3 billion request to place a long-range missile system throughout the First Island Chain, which stretches from south of Japan, through Taiwan, the Philippines, and down to Malaysia.
According to a copy of the PDI review by Nikkei Asia, the plan calls for “the fielding of an Integrated Joint Force with precision-strike networks west of the International Date Line along the First Island Chain, integrated air missile defense in the second island chain, and a distributed force posture that provides the ability to preserve stability, and if needed, dispense and sustain combat operations for extended periods.”
With the Biden administration making China a top foreign policy priority and Congress keen to confront Beijing, Davidson has a good chance of getting his funds. A group of House Republicans sent a letter to President Biden on Thursday urging him to increase military spending to combat China.
The Republicans called on Biden to increase military spending by 3 percent to five percent over inflation to compete with the Chinese military. The letter was signed by top House Armed Services Committee members. The effort was led by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL).
Biden’s Pentagon is currently conducting a review of its China policy which is being led by Ely Ratner, a China hawk who was appointed to advise Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Asian matters.